If you meet Jesus with the cross…long British face – I sometimes wonder why he was born in Judea. Britain was the right place for him; he is British, out-and-out. He never laughed. And then that serious cross…and not only he has to carry it, he is telling his disciples that everybody should carry his cross on his shoulders. Why should everybody carry his cross on his shoulders? – why not a guitar? My people are going to carry guitars on their shoulders.
But for thousands of years seriousness has been so much respected that a few countries have completely forgotten how to laugh. It is said that when you tell a joke to an Englishman, he laughs twice: first he laughs so that nobody sees that he has not understood the joke, and then secondly he laughs in the middle of the night, when he gets it.
If you tell the same joke to a German, he laughs only once – just for etiquette’s sake; because everybody is laughing, he has to make the effort. Deep down he cannot understand why people are laughing. But he never gets it, so the second time is out of the question. If you tell the same joke to a Jew, rather than laughing he will say, “Wait, don’t waste time! It is an old joke, and moreover, you are telling it all wrong.”
People behave differently, because they have been conditioned differently. I have been searching for a joke that is purely Indian, but I have not been able to find one, all jokes are imported. It is good that there is no taxation on imported jokes; otherwise, in India there would be no jokes at all.
The Indians have been too serious about things, about God, about the ultimate. You cannot conceive of Gautam Buddha laughing, or Shankaracharya laughing, or Mahavira laughing – that is impossible. I have always wondered about it…because some of the first statues in the world were made of Gautam Buddha; those are the most ancient statues.
And why have they chosen cold marble to make the statues of Buddha? Buddha is cold. Laughter brings warmth; seriousness slowly, slowly becomes coldness – inhumanely cold. And the white marble represents his face exactly – because he never showed any emotions on his face; nobody ever saw tears in his eyes, a smile on his lips. Even while he was alive, he was just a marble statue.
India has been very serious for centuries, and that is one of the causes of its degradation. Silence is beautiful – but silence does not mean seriousness. Silence can be full of smiles; in fact, authentic silence is bound to be full of smiles, joy. People who have been experiencing ecstasy – even they have not burst into laughter.
This is contrary to my own experience, and it is contrary to the existential law.
The first thing that happens to the enlightened person is a deep belly laughter – for the sheer stupidity that he has been searching for something which is within himself. He has been carrying it for centuries within himself, and he never looked there; and he looked all over the world – carrying within himself the treasure which was available within a minute.
Just close your eyes…be silent…and it is there.